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DL council gives final approval to stiffer regulations for vacation rentals

Detroit Lakes Mayor Matt Brenk, left, swore in Police Officer Nicholas Erickson at the start of Tuesday night's City Council meeting. Erickson is the newest member of the Detroit Lakes Police Department. (Submitted photo)

The Detroit Lakes City Council has given its final stamp of approval to a new ordinance that will regulate short-term rental properties within city limits, such as those marketed through online services like AirBNB, HomeAway and VRBO.

Ordinance 441 was given its first reading at last month's regular council meeting; on Tuesday, the council voted to approve its second reading and adoption.

The new ordinance will require owners of all short term rental properties in residential areas to obtain a conditional use permit, submit to scheduled property inspections, and pay a city lodging tax.

Alderman Bruce Imholte noted that people in the local lodging industry were "very appreciative" of the council's efforts to implement the new ordinance, as they had been seeking for some time to "level the playing field" with regard to regulation of short term lodging in residential areas.

Among requirements laid out in the new ordinance, short term rental property owners must now go through the city's conditional use permitting process, which includes:

• Notification of residents in the neighborhood of the property;

• A public hearing;

• An inspection by the city building inspector;

• Payment of an annual rental permit fee;

• Payment of the local lodging tax; and

• Further parking and safety conditions as required by city code.

Those properties currently listed with VRBO, AirBNB or a similar online service must now adhere to the ordinance, which takes effect immediately, or face violation penalties as laid out in the city code.

Also at Tuesday's meeting, the council authorized city staff to seek requests for proposal (RFPs) to provide architectural and engineering services for construction of a new city police department.

The city's plans to construct a new police department, public works, city administration and other projects over the next several years are among the items that will be discussed at a special council meeting set for next Tuesday, March 19 at 4 p.m.

Also on the agenda will be the second reading and adoption of an ordinance rezoning the area where The Refuge Christian Outreach Center is located at 921 8th St. SE, from light industrial to a general business district. This will allow The Refuge to obtain a conditional use permit to operate a state-licensed facility that would provide substance use disorder services for women, similar to what the Compassion House (also operated by The Refuge) provides for men. The new facility would provide residential treatment for up to 10 women.

Vicki Gerdes

Staff writer at Detroit Lakes Newspapers for the past 18-plus years, currently editor of the entertainment and community pages as well as covering city council and the Detroit Lakes School Board. 

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